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Javier Milei: How is it possible?

I tried to answer astonished e-mails from friends, but I did not understand what had happened in Argentina’s first round of presidential elections, either

Javier Milei
Javier Milei on August 7, 2023.LUIS ROBAYO (AFP)

E-mails from friends in Mexico, Chile and Spain expressing their astonishment — how can this be happening? — flooded my inbox after Argentina’s August 13 first-round presidential elections, in which the ultra-right-wing Javier Milei — who proposes dollarizing the economy, authorizing the sale of body organs, closing dozens of government ministries and the country’s most important scientific research organization (CONICET) — ran the board. His running mate, vice-presidential candidate, Victoria Villarruel, directs the Center for Legal Studies on Terrorism and its Victims, and demands that the State recognize the military under the dictatorship as victims of terrorism, because “terrorists have human rights and their victims do not.” I tried to answer the emails, but I did not understand what had happened either. I refused to describe the millions of people who voted for someone who represents everything I abhor as irresponsible. I read articles that spoke of social weariness. I saw interviews in which colleagues jocularly celebrated Milei’s witticisms: “You’re going to close CONICET? Ha! What a mess you are going to make!” Recently, there was the debut of the film Argentina, 1985, about the trial of the military juntas that plunged the country into a bloodbath after 1976, which especially drew the interest of young people, who seem to have been the ones who voted for Milei en masse. And then there was a country — my country — with over 100% inflation and 43% of people living in poverty. A friend told me: “People got tired of promises. And some neanderthals come along and say: ‘I am not going to give you anything, but I will kick the asses of those who are fucking you over.’ That presages an even bigger fuck-up, but what people want is revenge.” There are some verses by Logan February that say, “We blame insomnia on the dog / who barks until dawn, who is also suffering.” Revenge or suffering, the result is the same: it’s the beginning of the end of many things.

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